Omaha Mayor questions use of furlough program following weekend shooting

Sep 18, 2012

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle says he questions whether a furlough system to help reacclimate inmates into society should be used in some cases.

Two Omaha Police officers shot and killed Jermaine Lucas early Sunday morning. Lucas was a known gang member serving 5 to 8 years at the Community Corrections Center in Lincoln for felon in possession of a weapon. At the time of the shooting, Lucas was on a furlough, and authorities say he was armed.

Mayor Suttle says he’s requested that Police Chief Todd Schmaderer get a list of all inmates from the Omaha area who are eligible for furloughs. "We are looking specifically, in this case, for people who are in the hierarchy of the gangs, who have a history of using guns to settle things, they’re firing them, they’re using them to commit crimes or inflict pain on other human beings, and certainly we have to go back to the narcotics side. That’s what’s tying all of this together."

Suttle says the city and OPD should be notified immediately about the furloughs when an inmate has been granted one.

The Omaha Police officers who shot and killed Lucas are on administrative leave.

In a statement, Nebraska Department of Corrections Director Robert Houston says "We feel badly for the Omaha police officers who had to take this action.  We also feel badly for the Lucas family and their loss. Utilizing furloughs as we more safely return inmates to the Nebraska community when their sentence is complete.  This tragedy has sparked an in-depth review of the procedures relative to furloughs and our expanding re-entry efforts.  We have a long-standing, close relationship with the Omaha Police Department, a key part of which is built on the sharing of information between our two agencies.  We will continue to work with OPD and provide information and resources to further our common goal of public safety."